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3.1 out of 5 stars14
3.1 out of 5 stars
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One of Perez-Reverte's most outstanding characteristics has always been his ability to incorporate academic research and arcane and thought-provoking historical data into an exciting and stimulating historical mystery. In the past, this research has always been an integral part of the novel's structure, and woe be unto the reader who, half-asleep when reading, misses a key detail or fails to note some crucial connection necessary to understanding the conclusion. This novel is different. Though it contains an intellectual mystery, it is also part treasure hunt, love story, character study, and treatise on sexual politics.
Not totally successful on any of these levels, I found the novel entertaining, but lacking those special characteristics which have always made Perez-Reverte's books so mentally engaging. The story is relatively simple. Coy, a seaman who has been suspended for two years because of an accident, begins working for Tanger Soto, a pretty, blonde librarian for the Museo Naval, who has purchased a maritime atlas which will help her to locate a sunken ship. The ship, owned by the Jesuits, sank in 1767, and Tanger believes it carries a treasure, which she intends to find. Predictable complications ensue.
The plot divides into two parts--the first part is exciting and full of action as Coy and Tanger launch their search, while the second part is almost dead, as their rivals for the treasure disappear for almost 200 pages. Perez-Reverte tries to keep the excitement going by having a particularly nasty rival reappear, menacingly, from time to time on shore, but eventually the author has to resort to the cute trick of introducing a completely new character, the narrator, to juice up the narrative and the search for the sunken ship. Even the foreshadowing is often heavy-handed: "He suspected that later...he would need to remember something about this place." Tanger, the "love interest," is distant and duplicitous, and Coy is warned by virtually everyone in the book that she can't be trusted, something that prevents the reader from being caught up in the love story. All in all, I found this below Perez-Reverte's past accomplishments, both in story and in execution, entertaining enough, but not the intellectual thriller I expected. Mary Whipple
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on 22 December 2002
Just as the technical detail in The Fencing Master reserected my interest in Fencing, the suberb technical detail in The Nautical Chart has awoken a dormant interest in nautical maps and sextants! The gripping story line with its middle-aged hero and young, beautiful heroine/villain (a well proven receipe for Arturo fiction) simply pulls you into the story; you literally feel part of the tale. I've now read the full series of from this Author, and am hungry for more.
My only disappointment is that unlike the previous books, this translation is in american English.
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on 25 June 2003
Arturo Perez-Reverte is one of my favourite authors but this is not his finest work. The plot is predictable and the tension is not developed. It wanders into unnecessary musing on the nature of life too often and ultimately one is left dissatisfied with the motivations of the characters. In particular, nothing about the leading character explains his actions.
Good - but compared to his other works mediocre
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on 21 July 2004
I've loved all APR's other books, they have been exquisitely clever, intriguing and atmospheric. However, this one absolutely dragged. I found the main characters unsympathetic to the point of being irritating, and just lost all interest in the ins and outs of both the plot and the leading characters' 'tantalising' relationship. The almost obssessive recounting of every annoying little nuance of the latter began to make me wonder whether the writing was playing out some fantasy from his own life. I don't recommend this book, but do read all the others.
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on 14 November 2001
As ever with Arturo Perez-Reverte, this is another stylish, intelligent mystery, set against a backdrop of several Spanish cities and involving the obligatory beautiful, enigmatic blonde and tough-yet-vulnerable hero. Once again Perez-Reverte subverts the cliches of the genre, taking a search for sunken treasure and turning it into a journey through the falsehoods and self-deceits of the human heart - while along the way dispensing considerable information about 17thC Spanish navigation. Despite the by-now-expected play with the position of the narrator, this is perhaps more like a straight adventure story than the more complex Dumas Club or Seville Communion, and like The Fencing Master it also contains a number of disquieting reflections on the relations between women and men. Witty, brave and self-aware: a brilliant reinterpretation of the 19thC adventure novel. My only quibble is why it's available solely in an American translation, occasionally grating to an English reader.
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on 23 June 2011
I believe that people`s testes are very different so it is impossible to say which book is good which one is bad. It depends on what you like. This particular book is the best book I have ever read in my life!!! By saying that I mean it! Moreover Arturo Perez Reverte is my favourite author. I have read all of his books that have been translated into English. Plus I really appreciate Spanish authors, I love their way of narrating. It is always passionate, colourful and full of details. The stories are overfilled with adjectives that always stand out of the ordinary ones. Sometimes the action is missing but this is exactly what I adore about the books. It has a moderate pace that doesn`t rush you anywhere but covers you with the atmosphere of the story you are reading.
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on 30 August 2002
Someone once said of Peter DeVries, "I love his book. I read it every time he writes it." Arturo Perez-Reverte has cemented his claim to such backhanded praise with this release, "The Nautical Chart".
This book follows the standard Perez-Reverte formula, one that became almost tiresome after "The Flanders Panel" was released.
Here we are offered Coy, a down-on-his-luck sailor with barely enough knowledge to get the job done, a man who thinks and acts with his fists as opposed to his wits, Tanger Soto, a single-minded femme fatale who echoes Hammett's Bridget O'Shaughnessy (from "The Maltese Falcon", which this book references and echoes)and a pair of villains as cruel and unlikely as Gutman and Joel Cairo. The group are all in search of a vast treasure buried beneath the sea centuries ago. That's pretty much all there is to the story.
It's not the repeat of the old formula that bothers me so, rather it is the change in writing style that seems to have sucked the joy out of my reading of Perez-Reverte, and I don't know whether to blame this on the author or his translater. Former translator Sonia Soto had a flair for language and helped ease The Club Dumas and The Flanders Panel into the American consciousness by imbuing these books with a fluid formality that seemed just right for the content. New translator Margaret Sayers Peden has a wooden ear, seemingly translating some sections exactly as written (which makes them seem odd and flat to an English speaker) and others by trying to inject modern slang and make the book sound more contemporary.
It is a fact that, unless we read the original language, we are at the mercy of the translator when reading foreign literature. A good one can make the work sing and a bad one will make it squawk. Sadly, without a strong, fresh framework from Perez-Reverte, this translation merely squawks
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on 28 August 2007
I read 'The Nautical Chart' because my husband thought it very good. It's certainly a fascinating tale that I enjoyed reading but I have given it only three stars because there were various niggles that were too annoying to disregard.

Arturo Perez-Reverte is an established writer, but after some 200 pages it felt like reading a first-time author who needed a good editor to prune the lengthy descriptions and rambling speeches. Surely no one speaks in such long paragraphs in everyday conversation? Even the recurring marine metaphors which, initially, were apt and original, began to pall with frequent repetition, albeit in varied form.

Another niggle was the American English, entirely natural in an American novel or a novel with an American protagonist but inappropriate in a story from Spain with a Spanish protagonist. Set partly in Gibraltar, with its historical and present-day British associations, 'parking lots' and 'sidewalks' particularly grated. Presumably it is the publisher who chooses the translator.

I agree with others' comments that the main characters were not particularly likeable, although some of the minor ones - El Piloto, for instance - seemed more appealing. Coy, the main protagonist, became more acceptable as the story progressed, despite his propensity to punch people it might have been politic not to punch.

Despite the niggles though, the story was sufficiently interesting to keep me reading. The ending was, I felt, somewhat predictable from various subtle and not-so-subtle hints scattered throughout the story, but at least there was an extra twist I had not expected.

All in all, it's an enjoyable read that I'd recommend to anyone with an interest in the sea and sailing - although you need to be prepared for a surfeit of detail - but it's not outstanding.
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on 5 May 2011
This nautical tale creaks as much as the riggings of a ship becalmed by the doldrums that needs some wind to get the sails flapping again and continue on its voyage.

You can imagine the author joining up the dots as he tries to breathe some life into a plot that would lead any literary agent or film producer to cry out in despair: "Don't call us señor, we'll call you."

It basically concerns a Spanish mariner (an ideal role for designer-stubbled Javier Bardin in the movie version*) who ends up in Barcelona after losing his master's ticket (or some such seagoing certificate) when the ship he was piloting went aground.

Switch to an auction in which a femme fatale (who has different colored eyes) outbids a bad guy (with graying pony tail) for an 18th century navigational chart. Bad guy gets annoyed but good guy - stranded mariner - leaps to her defence and falls in love with her.

She then lures him to Madrid where she persuades him to become involved in a search for a sunken Spanish galleon that presumably is filled with treasure. Don't ask me. I bailed out by then.

This summary actually flatters the writer who might be a great exponent of Spanish prose but needs a decent translator.

Here is a sample of what drops from the lips of this Spanish enchantress: "You can get drunk a thousand times with Captain Haddock - Loch Lomond whiskey, in case you didn't know, holds no secrets for me. I also parachuted over a mysterious land with the green flag of the EFSR in my arms, crossed the border between Syldavia and Borduria more times than you can count, swore by the mustache of Kurvi Tasch, sailed on the "Karaboudjam", The "Ramona", the "Speedol Star" and the "Sirius"...

*He's the guy who plays a painter in "Vicky Cristina Barcelona", one of the worst films Woody Allen ever made and that is saying something.
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VINE VOICEon 16 January 2009
This was so well done - plot, writing, research - I had to give it a better-than-average rating, even though there's a big 'but' coming.

Which is this: Yes, it's a great adventure story, but somehow, ultimately, hollow. There was an endorsement on my copy comparing Tanger to Smilla (in 'Smilla's Sense of Snow'.) Having seen it, I couldn't forget about it, and like so many 'endorsements' in the end it ended up more of a detriment, in that I kept comparing the characters (and books) unfavorably, because Smilla was such a rich and endearingly flawed character, while Tanger was just an unmitigated bitch.

I suppose to make the plot work, Tanger had to be a bit of an enigma. But on the other hand, I always find it difficult to swallow a plot that hinges on one character's consuming love for another, when it appears to be based on absolutely nothing. I could just about believed Coy would fall for her based on looks alone if he was 25 and shallow. Given how carefully it was established that he wasn't, however, I think he'd have needed to hear the sob story behind the broken nose and battered swimming cup to be won over.

And maybe, in the end, I wanted to like Tanger just a little bit. To have some understanding of why she did what she did. But this is a cerebral read, not an emotional one. So maybe it's perfect, and just not quite my cup of tea?
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